BRUSSELS, Belgium – NATO remains concerned about the Russian military build-up encircling Ukraine, and threats of an imminent invasion despite Moscow accusing the West of disinformation and ridiculing talk of an invasion. The spokesperson for Russia’s foreign ministry on Wednesday mocked Western “disinformation media” and suggested the outlets should publish the future schedule of Moscow’s “invasions,” after getting the current one so wrong, so she could select dates for her next vacation.
“A request for US and UK disinformation media like Bloomberg, The New York Times, The Sun, etc. Please announce the schedule of our ‘invasions’ for the coming year. I would like to plan a vacation,” Moscow’s foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova posted on Telegram.
Nonetheless, NATO Ministers of Defense converged in Brussels in Belgium on Wednesday in a crisis meeting to address the events along the Ukraine border.
“This was a substantive discussion on the most serious security crisis in Europe in decades,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said immediately after the conclusion of the meeting of the group’s defense ministers.
“But so far, we do not see any sign of de-escalation on the ground. No withdrawals of troops or equipment.”
“This may of course change. However, what we see today is that Russia maintains a massive invasion force ready to attack. With high-end capabilities. From Crimea to Belarus,” said the NATO chief.
“This is the biggest concentration of forces in Europe since the Cold War.”
“From the start, NATO Allies have made clear that further Russian aggression against Ukraine would have a high cost. And we have called out Russia’s actions, plans, and disinformation,” Stoltenberg said.
“At the same time, NATO remains prepared for dialogue. It is not too late for Russia to step back from the brink of conflict. And choose the path of peace.”
“NATO has sent concrete written proposals to Russia. On transparency, risk reduction, and arms control,” said Stoltenberg.
“We have yet to receive a response. I reiterate my invitation to Russia to meet again in the NATO-Russia Council.”
The NATO secretary-general said his organization will not compromise on core principles, the right of each nation to choose its own path, and it ability to protect and defend its Allies.
“We have already enhanced our deterrence and defense. With more troops, planes, and ships. And higher readiness of the NATO Response Force. These steps are defensive. NATO is not a threat to Russia, he said.
“We do not know what will happen in Ukraine. But the situation has already demonstrated we face a crisis in European security. Moscow has made it clear that it is prepared to contest the fundamental principles that have underpinned our security for decades. And to do so by using force. I regret to say that this is the new normal in Europe.”
“Therefore today, Ministers decided to develop options for further strengthen NATO’s deterrence and defense, including to consider establishing new NATO battlegroups in central and eastern, south-eastern Europe, and I welcomed the offer by France to lead such a battlegroup in Romania,” Stoltenberg said.
“Our military commanders will now work on the details and report back within weeks.”